Transfo… ah, the hell with that — The Unjust

I did see the latest Baypalooza, notable only for being somewhat more visually coherent than the last two robots-bashing-robots films. Alas, that’s still only about 3 or 4% overall coherence. It was reasonably entertaining; the 7-year-old with me was itchy for much of the first half and then rapt for the last. This 43-year-old went away wishing he’d cared more.

But tonight I watched Seung-wan Ryoo’s 2010 pitch-black noir The Unjust, a film that’ll eventually show up on Netflix, but probably won’t make it to any theaters near any of us, except maybe Mauer. It’s scripted by Hoon-jung Park, who wrote I Saw the Devil, and if I say this latest film is a wee bit less nihilistic, that’s like saying Steve Jobs has less money then Bill Gates. One of the dark pleasures of this latest is the almost gleeful skipping down a steep slope of people behaving unethically. It starts with a montage of people in public settings watching various newscasters recount the great social anxiety around a series of rape-killings of young children, and then cuts into surveillance footage of a footchase between two police and a suspect. Ryoo zooms in and the film kicks into high gear.

But the serial killer’s a mcguffin, and much of the action is psychological — two protagonists (well….)–a lead detective (the stoic, ever-more-tightly-wound Jeong-min Hwang) and a public prosecutor (the frequently unwound Seung-beom Ryu) are charged with resolving the kid case, while also tussling over dueling dirty developers. The film plays out like Sidney Lumet via Takashi Miike, with a lot of high-wire editing which keeps your pulse high. But what really sold me were the performances — always two or three steps over the top, but carefully modulated; it’s a wicked, entertaining thriller, as good as I’ve seen this year.

4 thoughts on “Transfo… ah, the hell with that — The Unjust

  1. Transformers 3 was a mess, no real surprises there. But I was surprised at how campy the franchise has become. What was John Malkovich thinking, and Frances McDormand? And Buzz Aldrin, for christ’s sake. John Turturro buried himself in this role a couple of movies back, but he at least seems to be having fun. Having Leonard Nimoy voice Sentinel Prime opened the door to countless annoying Star Trek references (“the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” ha ha). Finally, I can’t believe that I missed Megan Fox. Her replacement, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (seriously? Is this a parody of Englishness?), just prances around in short skirts and high heels occasionally screaming. Fox at least took the action part of the role more seriously.

    The movie just veers frantically between long stretches of what passes for humor in a Michael Bay film, and totally irony-free action sequences. At least we didn’t pay for the 3D version.

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